Fr. James Shaughnessey – Diocese of Harrisburg

Fr. James Shaughnessey

Diocese of Harrisburg

Ordained: 1937

Absent on Sick Leave: 1941-1944

Assigned in the Archdiocese of Boston: 1964-1989

Retired (in good standing): 1977

Died: 1989

Assigned in Harrisburg as follows:

  • 1937-1941          St. Mary of the Assumption (Lebanon, PA)
  • 1941-1944          Absent on Sick Leave
  • 1944-1945          St. Lucy (Waltonville, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. James Shaughnessey:

Father James Shaughnessey’s name appears on the Diocese of Harrisburg’s 2018 list of accused priests.  According to the Diocese of Harrisburg, his name is listed not because he was accused of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg, but rather because he was accused of abusing children in the Archdiocese of Boston.

That Shaughnessey spent three years of his young career in Harrisburg absent on sick leave is certainly a red flag that needs additional scrutiny.  While the designation in the Official Catholic Directory is not itself conclusive of sexual misconduct, that is the designation most often used to identify accused priests who are sent for inpatient treatment and aftercare following allegations of abuse.  The transfer to the Archdiocese of Boston following that sick leave is also suspicious for the same reasons.  It is not uncommon for an accused priest to be barred from ministry in his home diocese following repeated allegations, such that they need to find a “benevolent bishop” in another diocese to take them in if they wish to continue in the priesthood.  Whether that was the case with Shaughnessey would require additional investigation into the records maintained by both dioceses.

Once Shaughnessey left for the Archdiocese of Boston, he never returned to ministry in Harrisburg.

According to the Archdiocese of Boston, Shaughnessey died in 1989.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania.  The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Harrisburg may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply.  Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg will never be able to take action against the Diocese of Harrisburg if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case.   

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your legal options today.